Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason The Russo Brothers Might Cut Ties With Marvel

There are certain figures who feel essential to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And while we could go down the list of actors who were essential in building what the MCU is thus far, we've already seen how that world lives on without a Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), or Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). The people who are arguably the most essential are the ones behind the camera, shaping where the story goes.

And while the obvious answer for "who is most important within the MCU" is easily Kevin Feige, there's something also to be said about the importance of co-directing brothers Anthony and Joe Russo. Even if we look at the tale of the tape so far, the pair directed "Captain America: Winter Soldier," Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Infinity War," and "Avengers: Endgame" – all of which comprise some of the most essential stories in the entirety of the MCU. The Russos, even more so than "Avengers" director Joss Whedon, helped define what superhero team-ups look like.

By all accounts, while many actors age and move on, the Russos had every reason to keep on making Marvel movies for as long as they enjoy making them. However, despite the intention for the Russos to direct at least one more MCU film post-"Avengers: Endgame," the likelihood that they'll actually keep working in that world suddenly seems slim. And if you've been paying attention to some of the behind-the-scenes complications between certain MCU mainstays and Disney, you can probably guess why the Russos might walk away from the franchise they helped build (and which helped build them) forever.

Scarlett Johansson isn't the only one frustrated with Disney

You may recall that Scarlett Johansson and the Walt Disney Company have entered into a dispute over the amount of money she is receiving through "Black Widow." Like most talent within the MCU, Johansson does not receive her full payment up front, but, rather, is paid based on the box office success of her films. Due to COVID-19 restrictions (and a resulting long delay in release), "Black Widow" found itself available both in theaters and on Disney+ Premium simultaneously. In short: Johansson's profits were cut into.

As Disney rebuffs any claims that they violated Johansson's contract by releasing "Black Widow" on their streaming platform the same day it entered theaters, the question of how this dispute will impact every potential MCU creative going forward looms large — and it looms large for the Russo brothers, too. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the Russos reached "an impasse in negotiations" while discussing a future MCU project as a result of continued contractual uncertainty as it pertains to digital distribution.

It's certainly not impossible for their negotiations with Disney to be successful when it comes to streaming during these unpredictable times. Actress Emma Stone, whose film "Cruella" also began streaming the same day it entered theaters, was able to work out a deal with Disney that was strong enough for all parties to commit to a sequel.

However, the MCU (which generated nearly $23 billion in box office profits as of August 2021) feels like its own separate animal. We won't really know how things will go for the Russos or anyone else until the lawsuit with Johansson is settled. In the meantime, the Russos seem content to take their ball and play elsewhere.